Facebook ranks even lower in customer satisfaction than IRS e-filers, according to a report by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, produced in partnership with ForeSee Results (pdf). Facebook ranks in the bottom 5 percent of

all measured private-sector companies, at the same level as airline and cable companies.

“Facebook is a phenomenal success, so we were not expecting to see it score so poorly with consumers,” said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results.

“At the same time, our research shows that privacy concerns, frequent changes to the website, and commercialization and advertising adversely affect the consumer experience," Freed said. "Compare that to Wikipedia, which is a non-profit that has had the same user interface for years, and it’s clear that while innovation is critical, sometimes consumers prefer evolution to revolution.”

This is the first year that social media was rated by the ASCI. Wikipedia leads the category at 77, followed by YouTube at 73, Facebook at 64 and MySpace at 63. Twitter wasn’t rated because of the amount of people who access it via 3rd party tools.

The media complains about Facebook, and some individual users complain about it as well, but among mainstream audiences, Facebook continues to grow, and not even looking at the numbers it’s easy to argue that user engagement is higher than ever, unless you don't trust observation.

What the findings do indicate is that if there were another service that would come along that replaced Facebook’s popular functionalities without having the privacy and PR issues, some users may jump ship.

At this point, it’s obvious that removing Zuckerberg would be the fastest and easiest way to improve brand image. Investigations into Zuckerberg’s ethics and motivations are damaging the company and threaten to put it into continual crisis mode.

In other tech categories, Google dropped 7 percent, but continued to lead search. At 80 percent satisfaction, Google scored only three points better than second-place Bing.

“Bing’s first measure is impressive and could put some pressure on Google. The new search engine is already making gains in market share and using clever marketing and advertising to distinguish itself from the market leader.”

By Mark Alvarez